The Premier Hockey Federation wrapped up its regular season this past weekend. The Connecticut Whale split their series with the Toronto Six to capture first place in the league. Elsewhere, the Buffalo Beauts swept the Boston Pride in a pair of games.
Buffalo vs. Boston
The Beauts needed overtime twice to beat the Pride, but they did it, sweeping this past weekend's series by scores of 2-1 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday. Buffalo has played stronger as the season's gone on, and although they finished the regular season in last place, capturing a pair of wins against their upcoming preliminary round opponent can't be a bad thing.
Boston came out strong in the first few minutes of Saturday's game, getting pucks on net and continually stripping the Beauts of possession. Buffalo failed to capitalize on a two-player advantage midway through the first, then squandered another power-play chance later on.
Sammy Davis opened the scoring on a Boston PP just 41 seconds into the middle frame, bouncing the puck in off Carly Jackson's glove. Dominique Kremer tied the game midway through, tipping in a shot from Anjelica Diffendal.
The Pride switched goalies halfway through the game, pulling Katie Burt for Lovisa Selander. Per Sam Fryman, this was a planned move. Burt faced 18 shots in 32:09.
Although both teams had chances in the third, the game remained tied after 60 minutes. It took just 1:13 of overtime for the Beauts to snag the win, as Taylor Accursi passed the puck in front over to Kennedy Ganser on the right side, and she slid it into the net.
As Saturday's game ended with Ganser's goal, Sunday's game started with one. Teams traded penalties in the first period, and the Beauts' Ganser capitalized amid chaos in front of the net to shovel it in on the power play.
Just past the midway point of the game, Jillian Dempsey tied the game, with multiple players screening Jackson. Davis scored her second of the weekend just 31 seconds later, banking it in off the post.
Thankfully for Buffalo, it didn't take them long to tie it. Taylor Wasylk scored her first PHF goal, jumping on a loose puck to Selander's left & capitalizing on an empty side of the net.
Once again, the game required overtime. Just 32 seconds in, the Beauts headed to the power play, giving them the extra boost needed to win in the 4-on-3 opportunity. Diffendal notched the game-winner.
All three of Buffalo's goals on Sunday came on the advantage. Carly Jackson stopped 53 shots faced over the two games.
Connecticut vs. Toronto
The battle for first place in the PHF came down to Sunday's game, and the Whale made no mistake in ensuring their best finish in franchise history. After falling to Toronto 5-4 in overtime Saturday, Connecticut shut out the Six by a score of 5-0 Sunday.
Saturday's game was a true back-and-forth battle. The Whale put on a lot of pressure in the first period and had decidedly more offensive zone time, but the Six struck first. With 2:19 to play in the frame, Emma Woods charged to the net and picked up a pass from Brooke Boquist in the corner, connecting to beat Abbie Ives glove-side.
Just 1:28 into the second period, however, Connecticut tied it. Taylor Girard picked the puck off a Toronto stick and broke out of the zone, skating down the ice and beating Elaine Chuli five-hole.
The end-to-end action continued, with Natalie Marcuzzi giving the Six an edge at 6:17 after she poked in a loose puck on the doorstep. Just as quickly, Amanda Conway came in on net, beating the Toronto defender and broke away on for a forehand shot that snuck in on the far side.
Each team went on to score twice in the third period. Emma Vlasic struck first at 7:14, taking advantage of a big rebound off Chuli's right pad. Just 1:42 later, Breanne Wilson-Bennett redirected a shot by Lindsay Eastwood off the faceoff to make it 3-3.
The goals continued to come, with Kennedy Marchment breaking the tie just past the midway point of the period. Marchment capitalized on a turnover, beat two defenders and beat Chuli glove-side. Wilson-Bennett tied it at four on a reviewed goal amid chaos in front of the net.
Connecticut outshot Toronto 28-16 in regulation, but none of that mattered much when it was Mikyla Grant-Mentis finally getting on the board in overtime. Grant-Mentis snuck the puck in on a backhand, bouncing it off Marchment's stick.
While Saturday's game was back-and-forth, Sunday's game was the complete opposite. The Whale held the Six to just nine shots on goal and won 5-0 to take first place in the PHF standings.
After a scoreless first period, Girard opened the game up 7:44 into the second period. Marchment had the initial chance on a breakaway; Chuli made the save, but got caught outside the blue paint and couldn't get back to cover before Girard swept it in.
Toronto picked up the pace, forcing Mariah Fujimagari and the defense to stand tall, but it was Conway scoring at 15:39 to put the Whale up by a pair. Marchment, arguably their best player this season, got around a Six defender and found a clear pass to Conway, who put it in the side of the net.
Before the second period was over, Alyssa Wohlfeiler made it 3-0. With just 46 seconds to play, Wohlfeiler dropped a pass back to Allie Munroe, who brought it to the doorstep of the net. Wohlfeiler found a spot on the left side of the net and finished it off.
Janine Weber increased Connecticut's lead 8:32 into the third period. Weber picked up a backhand pass from Conway and cleanly swept it in with a backhand of her own. Conway added another goal for her third point of the afternoon with a power-play tally at 11:45.
Just like that, the Whale secured the top seed and their best finish in franchise history.
Final Regular Season Standings
- Connecticut (15-3-2, 47 points)
- Toronto (16-3-1, 46 points)
- Boston (10-5-5, 32 points)
- Metropolitan (7-12-1, 21 points)
- Minnesota (6-13-1, 19 points)
- Buffalo (6-14-0, 15 points)
Regular Season Leaders
- Points: Kennedy Marchment, CTW - 33
- Goals: Allie Thunstrom, MIN - 18
- Assists: Kennedy Marchment, CTW - 20
- GAA: Katie Burt, BOS - 1.41
- Save Percentage: Katie Burt, BOS - 0.958%
- Wins (goalie): Elaine Chuli, TOR - 16
Stay tuned for a full preview of the Isobel Cup Playoffs coming later this week.
(Photo: Mike Hetzel/Buffalo Beauts)